FEATURE: California refiners to see more crude by rail to meet LCFS

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New US West Coast crude-by-rail unloading facilities will supply California refiners with a broader selection of grades to meet increasingly stringent state "carbon intensity" environmental guidelines.

Three proposed crude-by-rail projects at the Port of Grays Harbor on Washington's Pacific Coast would give an increasing amount of light sweet Bakken crude from North Dakota waterborne access to California refineries. In a twist, Bakken crude has been given a relatively low carbon intensity (CI) rating, which may help the crude penetrate the California market.

Like in other regions, West Coast refiners choose to run low-cost domestic grades like Bakken because of the price advantage, analysts said.

"It's not the carbon rating that is likely to drive the increases in Bakken crude moving west, but rather the fantastic economics associated with moving Bakken barrels west by rail," Bentek Energy senior analyst Chris Micsak said. Bentek is a unit of Platts.

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